The British Orthodox Church - Fellowship Forum
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- mikethelionheart - 21-02-2010 09:58 PM

Dear Simon

Many thanks for that beautiful reply.

You do yourself an injustice, your prose is wonderful and I think all Christian readers will understand the difficult to explain feelings you describe.

Personally, I get the same feeling from attending Catholic mass in different parts of the world, sometimes Latin rite, sometimes Eastern rite. I also get it from attending Orthodox services (do you call it mass, despite my knowledge of Orthodox Christianity I don't actually know if you call it mass). This comes from the fact that Orthodox Christianity goes back 2000 years to the Apostles and I can feel that in the liturgy.
I do not not get that feeling from protestant services, maybe a bias as I am a convert from evangelical protestantism, but I know Catholics that love attending protestant services. Even they, though, will say that one thing is missing, one thing is always missing that can only be found in Catholic and Orthodox services, the real presence.

I have learnt a lot from this forum. Much more than other forums that always (and I mean always) end up descending into a slanging match between Christians and atheists or Catholics and Protestants) so I hope no one will mind if I keep posting here.
I am not of your denomination, but I hope it prospers and grows.
Also, I could do with Orthodox contacts as I am training to be an RE teacher (that's religious education for the non-UK readers on here, a subject that seems to be unique to the UK. All our school children must learn RE and be taught about all the major religions. I have just finished the first of 2 school placements. In five different classes I asked "What are the three major groups that Christianity is split into?". I eventually got Catholics and Protestants, and other replies such as Jews, Anglicans, Muslims, atheists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses. No one said Orthodox. 300 million Orthodox but it seems no one in the UK has ever heard of you) so it would be useful for me to have Orthodox contacts.

God bless


- Antony-Paul - 22-02-2010 06:30 PM

Dear Mike,

I hesitate to add to Simon's reply. However, I am delighted that you found it helpful.

Like Simon, I find it virtually impossible to put into words exactly what I feel on such a subject as religious life. I see you have moved from one Church to another, and so have I - perhaps ironically I have moved from Rome to Orthodoxy! Thus you have already met the difficulties of a transition.

After a lifetime with Rome (I am 66) including studying for ordination and a period in monastic life, I had such real difficulties with the Church in terms of the direction it appears to be taking on several issues. Suffice to say, without enumerating them, that this was placing me under pressure to do something about it. I examined many options, but finally found Orthodoxy. I have found my 'pearl of great price' that gives me unfathomable joy. I still have immense respect and love for Rome, but I now have a 'degree of comfort' that I did not experience before.

I am also able to place my Church alongside others in another way. My wife remains a Roman Catholic, together with my eldest daughter. My youngest has been Evangelical for many years, having studied she now conducts services in her church. None of this causes us any conflict or friction. We maintain respect for each others tradition, and are if anything closer than ever through Jesus.

I am delighted that you have found such joy with Rome. Clearly God has offered us a variety of pathways which conform to Jesus' message and are all within the ambit of His Church. I suspect we cannot understand this, but maybe we need to accept it in Faith. There appears to be scope for movement between Churches without losing our closeness to, and love for, Jesus. I too felt for many years the 'one true Church' approach had to be right. The passage of years has perhaps softened this within me. My attitude towards Rome, and the broad family of Orthodox is now one of great reverence and respect, even though I am now confirmed in my Orthodoxy. Daily I pray for not only my British/Coptic Church, but for all the Orthodox Churches and the Church of Rome.

You have my love and respect. You are my Brother in Christ. I am certain that God is pouring out His Blessings upon you. I shall include you in my prayers.


- Antony-Paul - 23-02-2010 03:08 PM

Dear Mike,

I have just realised that I didn't answer your question. I'm sorry for the omission.

The equivalent service to the RC Mass is the Divine Liturgy. It has a somewhat different shape to the Mass, although the essential elements are present. It also takes longer. The Liturgy of St James takes about two hours. The liturgies used are of great antiquity, tracing back to the very earliest days of the Church, and have suffered little change except for translation. The normal attitude for prayer is standing, without shoes, although there are brief prostrations. Commonly the Divine Liturgy is prefixed by the "Raising of Incense", which is a very formalised Morning Prayer (and also Evening Prayer, too). It takes about an hour to an hour and a half. Thus on Sunday mornings we will be worshipping for perhaps up to three hours or so. Such length of service is characteristic of Orthodoxy.

You mention the matter of "inter-communion" as it is sometimes called. Certainly the consecrated species is restricted to baptised Orthodox. In a way, this makes it even more special when eventually you are granted Communion after prayer, studies and Baptism. However, the Divine Liturgy includes another, to me very meaningful, element. Early in the service the priest examines a number of loaves that have been baked specially for the occasion. He choses one for consecration, and the remainder are blessed and put aside. At the end of the Liturgy this blessed bread is distributed to all present, (including non-Orthodox) known as the Antidoran. Clearly this is a sharing of bread blessed by God which brings us all together.

I hope these notes are helpful.

With love and prayers,

Tony.


- donald wilson - 04-03-2010 05:16 PM

Hello All

Wow! I just read that wonderful prose on your joyful sense of Christian communion, and I am compelled to sound a rousing Amen!
May this joy and wonder at the Church of God become something contagious!

Don


- Antony-Paul - 04-03-2010 05:40 PM

Dear Donald,

Thank you for your kind thoughts. After a lifetime as a non-Orthodox Christian until recently, I have not been able to express such joy before. I understand you are not Orthodox, but we can surely share such great joy in our fellowship through Jesus, in whom we are brothers.

I try to pray for all Christians every day, and will add you to my specific names today!

With love and prayers,

Tony.


- John Charmley - 03-04-2010 04:14 PM

At this Pascha-tide may we all, wherever God has called us to for now, find in the Risen Lord an enduring source of all our hopes and a focus for our faith, and may His blessings be with us all, now and ever more.

peace,

John